Music

All they have is love for Gregory

By Aaliyah Cunningham
Observer writer
aaliyahc@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

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Gregory Isaacs was gifted with a new headstone for his 69th birthday, July 15, at Dovecot Memorial Park in St Catherine. The short ceremony saw family and friends paying respects to the singer who died in October 2010 at age 59.

The proceedings were officiated by Rev Father Selassie Fitzgerald and Deacon Ze-Dingel Greenland, who are long-time friends of Isaacs and his family. The headstone bears the Order of Distinction Isaacs was awarded in 2016; a red rose was also laid on the singer's grave.

Among those present were his nephew Ray Isaacs and grandson Orlando Isaacs, who paid tribute to him.

“Granddad we are here enuh, and we miss you but we are taking it easy. We know you woulda want that,” said Orlando.

Close friend, Trevor “Leggo Beast” Douglas, also said a few words.

“Unfortunately, nobody can live forever, but yuh came on this earth and yuh did yuh job an' I have to say, you did it well my brother. Rest up!” Douglas expressed.

Percussionist Bongo Herman injected energy into the ceremony, along with a number of musicians; they also paid their respects to their colleague.

Popularly known as The Cool Ruler, Isaacs left a legacy of music spanning 42 years and countless hit songs including Love is Overdue, All I Have is Love, Soon Forward and Night Nurse. In 1968 he made his musical debut as Winston Sinclair with the single Another Heartache.

Five years later, he and fellow singer Errol Dunkley started the African Museum label for which Isaacs produced a number of his songs as well as for other artistes. Six years after his death, the Jamaican Government posthumously awarded Isaacs the Order of Distinction (Officer Class) in recognition of his contribution to the country's music.

His widow, June Isaacs, told the Jamaica Observer that the entire family is happy they could have given him this tribute.

“I feel good knowing that I am able to put his honour [Order of Distinction] where he is. It is well-deserved and I really do wish he were alive to receive it. The family has taken comfort in the fact that he now gets to see the fruits of his labour, and others who come to see him will see it as well. We are filled with pride that his insignia is now a part of his headstone,” she said.

A major part of his legacy is the Gregory Isaacs Foundation that was set up in 2011 by June. Its aim is to assist persons struggling with drug abuse, which plagued the singer for much of his life.

In May, the foundation made a monetary donation to Patricia House Rehabilitation Centre in Kingston.


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